The travel purse strings have been loosened for GOP presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio, whose penny-pinching on commercial planes reportedly has been abandoned for campaign trips primarily on a private jet.
Citing travel records and unnamed sources, Politico
reports Rubio has traveled overwhelmingly by chartered jet since mid-November, spending an estimated tens of thousands of dollars daily to keep a Cessna Citation Excel plane ready to go.
Running third in national polling averages
, the Florida lawmaker is criss-crossing Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to build support, Politico reports.
"The difference between us and the other candidates is that some candidates are focused on only one place and we, of course, are campaigning in multiple places," Rubio told the The Des Moines Register, shortly before boarding his chartered jet for a rally and fundraiser in Dallas, Politico reports.
"We're supposed to fly out and our pilots say it's going to get like really bad here in about an hour."
The travel spree compares with boasts from earlier in the campaign of thrifty traveling.
Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan bragged in September the candidate "flies 95 percent commercial, always coach," Politico reports.
And in October, drawing an unstated contrast with rival Jeb Bush, who'd spent nearly $1 million on charter flights that quarter, the Rubio campaign declared: "Rather than relying on charter flights on private jets, Marco and the team flies commercial," Politico reports.
But one fundraiser said a private jet sometimes is a must.
"I think it makes perfect sense. It's the only way to logistically do it." GOP fundraiser Roy Bailey tells Politico.
"As a fundraiser, I don't mind because it enables them to get to more events, which means more money. I'm very practical about it. Without it, we might not be able to have the event."
On Tuesday, Rubio was in Mason City, Iowa — before jetting off to an event 700 miles away in Colorado, Politico reports.
"Twenty-seven days," the candidate said, Politico reports. "We want to get everywhere."
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